HIGH SPRINGS – While High Springs City Manager Ed Booth has been acting in the capacity of Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Executive Director for more than a year, he says he is “delighted” to now turn over the day-to-day administrative duties. Amanda Rodriguez joined the staff on Dec. 8 and was introduced to the public formally at the Dec. 11 City Commission meeting.
The mother of three is approximately half-way through a Masters Degree program in Public Administration at Florida Gulf Coast University in Ft. Myer where she has maintained a 4.0 GPA. She is married to Sammy Rodriguez, the Director of Food Services at Camp Kulaqua for the past five years, and mother to two daughters, ages 10 and 13, and her 8-year-old son.
Much of her experience has been in marketing development and public relations for Sung Adventist Academy and as Community Development Coordinator for Partnership for Strong Families, both located in Gainesville. While she and her family currently live in Gainesville, they are actively looking for a home in the High Springs area. “I look forward to both my husband and I working in the same city,” she said.
In her previous positions Rodriguez has written and managed grants, created marketing materials, newsletters, brochures, etc. and directed development of commercials and information videos. She has also been a fundraiser and event organizer.
When she applied for the position, Rodriguez was looking for a challenge. “I was intrigued by the fact that I would be starting at the ground floor at a time when there are a lot of changes being made. I am really excited that I will be in a position to help the CRA District's property owners to determine how they want to develop their district and to assist them in achieving their goals,” she said.
“One of Rodriguez' initial duties will be to review the CRA District's residential and business facade grant applications and make recommendations for improvements,” said former CRA Board Chair and current High Springs Mayor, Sue Weller. “She will also create a checklist for people applying for those grants to help streamline the application process.”
She is reviewing the CRA Board's goals for the next two years and starting to gather information and materials to help the Board achieve those goals.
Rodriguez is also expected to meet individually with CRA District property owners and create a database to facilitate efficient communication with them. She is to develop materials to explain what the CRA District is and what programs are available to aid property owners within the District. She is also expected to develop a CRA website, which will include the different projects underway and/or projects and support are available to District property owners.
Rodriguez says she will be organizing community meetings and working directly with Alachua County as a liaison to develop a plan for the CRA District for the next 10 years. The plan will include grants for property owners within the District, she says. Upon the plan's completion and approval by Alachua County and the City of High Springs, Rodriguez says, “It will be implemented for the 2016/2017 fiscal year.
This is a tall order for a full-time Executive Director, but Rodriguez is part-time at 20 hours a week with a salary of $25,000 per year. Rodriguez says, “My door is always open. I welcome any ideas for improving the District that anyone would want to share.”
Her office hours are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., and by appointment. The CRA office is located in the same building as the High Springs Building Department, 245 NW 2nd St., Unit 2. She can be reached by telephone at 386-292-3921.
Getting back to the topic of her education, Rodriguez volunteered that it is “very likely I will use High Springs and the CRA as part of my Master's thesis.”
"I am really excited about the opportunity to help High Springs develop their Downtown District," said Rodriguez. "I think it's going to be fun."
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